top of page

How Does Money Affect Marriage?

Updated: Feb 24

10 Ways Money Affects Marriage

Updated post: 9/5/23

Original post: 5/22/23

Table of Contents

Money is often said to be one of the most common sources of conflict and stress in marriage. But how exactly does money affect marriage, and what can couples do to manage their finances in a healthy and productive way?

Here are some insights based on academic research on how money influences marital quality, stability, and satisfaction.

Financial Security in Marriage

Financial security plays a huge role in marriage happiness and stability. When couples don't constantly worry about money, they're happier. Couples who struggle with debt and household finances are less happy. In contrast, couples who feel secure about their finances tend to argue less and feel more satisfied in their marriage.

As mentioned in a past post, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created a free interactive tool to assess financial well-being (financial health). The tool can help you understand the significance of your financial circumstances and the impact financial security could play on your marriage.

Here are three posts that will help you and your spouse become financially secure:

Budgeting Decisions in Marriage

A couple's financial habits and budgeting decisions can make a big difference in how happy and stable their marriage is. If spouses disagree on how to spend their money, they probably feel less satisfied with their relationship.

Conversely, couples who talk about money and make decisions together about their budget tend to be happier.

Good communication and joint decision-making about money can make a marriage happier and more satisfying. Here are resources that will help you and your spouse become financially secure:

Lifestyle Choices in Marriage

Marriage has been found to be influenced by lifestyle choices, which are often linked to a couple's financial situation. If you can afford to own a nice house, travel often, or enjoy fancy dinners, a couple is usually happier.

On the other hand, when a couple's financial reality doesn't match their lifestyle aspirations, they can experience stress and dissatisfaction in their marriage.

So yes, research has confirmed a marriage “no duh”, couples who can comfortably afford the life they want are more likely to be satisfied in their marriage. Here are ideas to help you and your spouse live a healthy and happy lifestyle:

How does money affect marriage

Financial Infidelity in Marriage

Financial infidelity, or being dishonest with your spouse about money matters, can have a big impact on a marriage. According to research, when one person in a marriage keeps financial secrets, like hidden debts or secret bank accounts, it can seriously harm trust in the relationship.

Moreover, couples dealing with financial infidelity are often less satisfied in their marriage and more likely to consider divorce. Just like any form of infidelity, dishonesty about money can lead to a lot of problems in a marriage.

In a 2018 survey, NEFE found that two in five Americans (41%) admitted to committing financial deceptions in their relationship. Moreover, 75% of those surveyed said financial deceit affected their relationships.

It's noteworthy that of those who experienced financial deception, 10% ended up divorcing or separating as a direct result.


Learn the impact money has on the health of your marriage. Try this quick 10 question quiz.


It's clear that being open and honest about finances is an important part of keeping a marriage healthy and strong. Below are three resources you can use to better understand how to better understand.

How does money affect marriage

Risk Tolerance in Marriage

When it comes to money matters, different levels of risk tolerance can really impact a marriage. If one spouse is more willing to take financial risks, like investing in stocks, while the other prefers safer options, like savings accounts, it can cause tension. This is because each spouse may not understand or agree with the other's financial decisions, which can lead to disagreements and conflict.

In fact, couples who have similar risk tolerance levels are often more satisfied in their marriage because they're more likely to agree on financial decisions.

So, when it comes to money matters in a marriage, it's clear that being on the same page about risk can help keep the peace. Here is a resource that can help:



Career Choices in Marriage

Career choices can have a big influence on marriages. According to research, the jobs spouses choose can affect how much time they have to spend together and how they divide responsibilities at home.

For example, if one partner works longer hours or travels frequently for work, it can put strain on the relationship. And the days of families following the careers of only men are over.

45% of households have women earning around the same or more than their partners, and more women than men are earning associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees.

As I shared in a monthly Op-Ed for Marketwatch, research has found that the more a man depends financially on his wife, the less he does, even if he is unemployed. The reason for this is complicated, and certainly not as simple as blaming husbands. The modern husbands community exists to help husbands through the complexities that accompany different societal norms than what our parents experienced.

When both partners are satisfied with their work-life balance, they're typically happier in their marriage. This makes it clear that the career paths spouses choose can really shape the quality of their marital relationship. Here are some resources that can help:

Financial Independence in Marriage

Financial independence can make a big difference in a marriage. When a spouse can stand on their own two feet financially, they often feel more confident and have a higher sense of self-worth.

On the other hand, if one partner relies heavily on the other for money, it can create an imbalance of power in the relationship, which might lead to conflict. Couples where both partners have their own source of income are typically more satisfied in their marriage.

Financial independence can contribute to a healthier, happier marriage. Here are a couple of ideas to help you work with your partner:

How does money affect marriage

Childrearing Decisions in Marriage

Decisions about raising children can have a significant impact on marriages. When spouses disagree on parenting styles or choices, like discipline methods or educational priorities, it can lead to conflict and dissatisfaction in the relationship.

Furthermore, how a couple divides childcare responsibilities can also affect marital happiness. When one partner feels they're doing more than their fair share of child-rearing duties, it can lead to resentment and strain the relationship.

On the other hand, when parents are on the same page about child-rearing and share the work equally, they're generally happier in their marriage.

So, it's clear that mutual understanding and fair division of child-rearing duties are important for maintaining a happy and strong marriage. Here are a couple of resources for you to reference to dive deeper into the topic:

Retirement Planning in Marriage

Retirement planning can greatly influence marital satisfaction and stability, according to academic research. Couples who have concrete plans for their retirement years tend to have fewer disagreements and more peace in their relationship.

On the flip side, couples who didn't see eye to eye on retirement plans often faced stress and arguments, impacting their overall relationship satisfaction negatively. When couples have a shared vision of retirement, they generally experience a smoother transition into this phase, contributing to increased marital satisfaction.

So, here's a tip for all the couples out there: Start talking about your retirement dreams early. Not only will it help you prepare financially for your golden years, but it may just bring you closer together, too.

Financial Stress in Marriage

Financial stress can put a lot of pressure on a marriage. When couples are stressed about money, whether it's due to debt, job loss, or just living paycheck to paycheck, they're more likely to argue and feel dissatisfied in their marriage. This kind of stress can make it hard for couples to communicate effectively and solve problems together, which can make things even worse.

“Interestingly, it's not always about how much money a couple has, but rather how they manage it, with couples who effectively handle their financial stress being generally happier in their marriages.”

So, it's clear that while financial stress can be tough on a marriage, good financial management and communication can help couples weather the storm. Here are a few ideas that will help:


Learn More

Couples who learn more, save more, and spend more on what is important to them.

For engaged and recently married couples who want to manage money and the home as a team.

Self paced online courses for couples designed by national financial therapy and financial planning experts

Winning ideas from experts to manage money and the home as a team. 2023 Plutus Award Finalist: Best Couples or Family Content

🔔 Click here to listen and subscribe to the Modern Husbands Podcast on Apple.

🔔 Click here to listen and subscribe to the Modern Husbands Podcast on Spotify.

Winning ideas to manage money and the home as a team delivered to your inbox every two weeks. You'll even receive a few free gifts!



Addo, F. R., & Sassler, S. (2010). Financial arrangements and relationship quality in low-income couples. Family Relations, 59(4), 408-423.

Archuleta, K. L., Britt, S. L., Tonn, T. J., & Grable, J. E. (2013). Financial satisfaction and financial stressors in marital satisfaction. Psychological Reports, 112(2), 551-563.

Atwood, J. D., & Seifer, M. (1997). Extramarital affairs and constructed meanings: A social constructionist therapeutic approach. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 25(1), 55-75.

Barnett, R. C., Raudenbush, S. W., Brennan, R. T., Pleck, J. H., & Marshall, N. L. (1995). Change in job and marital experiences and change in psychological distress: A longitudinal study of dual-earner couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 839-850.

Britt, S. L., Huston, S., & Durband, D. B. (2010). The determinants of money arguments between spouses. Journal of Financial Therapy, 1(1), 42-60.

Conger, R. D., Rueter, M. A., & Elder, G. H., Jr. (1999). Couple resilience to economic pressure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(1), 54-71.

Craig, L., & Mullan, K. (2011). How mothers and fathers share childcare: A cross-national time-use comparison. American Sociological Review, 76(6), 834-861.

Dean, L. R., Carroll, J. S., & Yang, C. (2007). Materialism, perceived financial problems, and marital satisfaction. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 35(3), 260-281.

Dew, J. (2007). Two sides of the same coin? The differing roles of assets and consumer debt in marriage. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28(1), 89-104.

Dew, J. (2009). The gendered meanings of assets for divorce. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 30(1), 20-31.

Dohmen, T., Falk, A., Huffman, D., Sunde, U., Schupp, J., & Wagner, G. G. (2012). Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants, and behavioral consequences. Journal of the European Economic Association, 9(3), 522-550.

Grable, J. E., & Britt, S. L. (2012). Assessing spousal disagreement on financial risk tolerance. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 23(1), 25-37.

Kim, K., Kwon, J., & Anderson, E.A. (2005). Factors related to retirement confidence: Retirement preparation and workplace financial education. Financial Counseling and Planning, 16(2), 77-89.

Mauno, S., Kinnunen, U., & Pyykkö, M. (2005). Does work-family conflict mediate the relationship between work-family culture and self-reported distress? Evidence from five Finnish organizations. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 78(4), 509-530.

Noone, J.H., Alpass, F.M., & Stephens, C. (2010). Do Men and Women Differ in Their Retirement Planning? Testing a Theoretical Model of Gendered Pathways to Retirement Preparation. Research on Aging, 32(6), 715-738.

Papp, L. M. (2007). The longitudinal association between spouses' management of money and marital satisfaction. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28(2), 265-286.

Papp, L. M., Cummings, E. M., & Goeke-Morey, M. C. (2009). For richer, for poorer: Money as a topic of marital conflict in the home. Family Relations, 58(1), 91-103.

Reeves, Richard V., and Ember Smith. “The Male College Crisis Is Not Just in Enrollment, but Completion.” Brookings, 9 Mar. 2022

Rick, S. I., Small, D. A., & Finkel, E. J. (2011). Fatal (fiscal) attraction: Spendthrifts and tightwads in marriage. Journal of Marketing Research, 48(SPL), S131-S143.

Twenge, J. M., Campbell, W. K., & Foster, C. A. (2003). Parenthood and marital satisfaction: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(3), 574-583.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page